Camp Exposes Youth to Higher Education
By Amanda Morad
August 12, 2011
Students listen to a camp speaker.
Photo courtesy of University Marketing
"This is it; you're going to college for the summer. You're going to go on a real college campus!" said a Norfolk mom to her young son after a successful screening interview for the Life Enrichment Center Summer Urban Youth Academy. This is the kind of excitement camp director Micah Harris received as students were given the opportunity to attend the academic camp at Regent University. "It was like she was telling him he was going to Disney World," she said.
Regent's Youth and Urban Renewal Center (YURC), in collaboration with the Life Enrichment Center Norfolk (LEC), developed the three-week camp. Nearly 40 rising sixth graders came to Regent for a not-your-average day camp in which they were exposed—many for the first time—to higher education.
This inaugural camp was free to the students, thanks to a grant awarded to the LEC by CSX Corporation, an international transportation supplier. "In terms of enrichment, specifically social, educational, cultural and spiritual enrichment & the camp fulfills LEC's mission at every point," said Pastor Kevin Turpin, director of the urban literacy and mentorship outreach.
Students were brought to the Regent campus by van each morning and fed breakfast and lunch each day. While on campus, students attended interactive talks with successful professionals, including Regent president, Dr. Carlos Campo, and Dr. Michael Palmer, dean of the School of Divinity.
The camp included field trips to other local universities. And, CSX sent a representative to speak to campers regarding transportation safety.
Character development was a primary focus of the camp. Through community classes and staff modeling, camp leaders reported marked improvement. "For many of these students, the camp is a refuge," said Turpin. "We're providing an experience that's relevant, fun, interactive and impactful."
Intended to motivate its students toward life success in the form of academic, community awareness and exploratory classes, the camp mimicked a true college experience. "We want to encourage students to think about academics as a pipeline to success," said Dr. Antipas Harris, YURC's director.
Participants were chosen based on school nominations, an application and personal interview. "We want them to be familiar with the idea that something worthwhile is worth applying yourself for," said Micah Harris.
This age group was targeted based on staggering dropout statistics and the hope of engaging students at a crucial time in their social development. "According to research," Dr. Harris said, "kids drop out of school between the sixth and ninth grade psychologically. That's middle school. Then in high school, they drop out physically. We wanted to focus on rising sixth graders as they're going to middle school because we know we're going to impact them psychologically about their future beyond high school."
For Dr. and Ms. Harris, Pastor Turpin and the entire camp staff, the ultimate goal was to send these students to middle school ahead of the statistics and already looking forward to college.
"If we can imprint [this age group]," Turpin said, "they will be the change agents for the community, for the city and for the nation."
Mindy Hughes, Public Relations
Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888